Monday 13 June 2022

Five questions that need to be answered about the UK Governments Rwanda Asylum policy

The lead story in the news is the Rwanda deportation policy. Apparently the first plane will leave tomorrow. Lets put aside the rights and wrongs of the policy for one second and just ask ourselves "Does this policy have any realistic prospect of doing what the government claims it will do?" The government claims that it will deter people from giving money to people smugglers and stop people even trying to enter the UK. The more I think about this, the less I see any chance of this working. I have five questions that Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have to answer.

1. Given that miniscule numbers of people will actually be sent to Rwanda, compared to the numbers entering the UK, why would any Asylum seeker not just see this as another risk and a far smaller one than crossing the channel?

2. Why does the Government believe that people seeking to enter the will think the policy will apply to them, when the people smuggling gangs will say "No, that won't apply to you and they are sending tiny numbers of people to Rwanda"? Most Asylum seekers don't read the Daily Mail before they get to the UK so the likelyhood that they will be deterred is tiny.

3. Is being put up in a luxury hotel in Rwanda at the expense of the British Government really a deterrent?  If people are prepared to risk death crossing the channel in a dingy, will they really be that put off the journey by the prospect of an all expenses paid holiday in Rwanda. The New tonight has been showing Government propoganda that claims the accomodation is wonderful and is in hotels that holidaymakers use. Furthermore the board and lodgings will be paid for by the Government. If you buy the hard right view that all asylum seekers are lazy spongers, will the concept of a free, very long holiday really be a deterrent.

4. If the Rwanda deportee's catch malaria whilst in the care of the British government, who will pick up the bill for the treatment and will the government run the risk of lawsuits for gross negligence? Rwanda is a malaria area. As the UK government has sent the person there against their will, presumably the government has a duty of care to them and if they fail in this and the person gets Malaria, which can be a life long disease, then it is corporate gross negligence and could cost the government millions for every person infected.

5. Will the allocation of people to Rwanda be a fair and inclusive process? Who get sent? If the selection criteria for sending people to Rwanda is unfair and it discriminates against specific ethnic/religious groups, then it will fall foul of the UK's equality laws and the government will find itself liable for claims.

I'm not a lawyer, but it is clear to me that when the deportee's lawyers get their teeth into the the policy it could cost hundreds of millions, if significant numbers of people are deported. If only a token few are deported, then the people smugglers and the asylum seeking migrants will simply price the risk into the process. It will make them far more likely to simply disappear. If the right wing view that people come to the UK for the benefits was true, then the all expenses paid holiday in Rwanda is hardly likely to deter anyone. If the reality of the accomodation in Rwanda is that it is a hellhole, then sooner or later the government will end up facing massive claims. The government can't have it both ways, the accomodation is either so good that word will get around that it's cushy and if their narrative is to be believed even more people will come here, or they've lied and it will be awful and when this is exposed, they will have to pay a fortune in compensation.  Sooner or later, someone who has been deported will die of a condition they've acquired in Rwanda. At that point, the government will start to face serious legals.

My suspicion is that not only will it deter no one, but in the fullness of time it will cost the UK billions. I believe that when the full scale of legal minefield has been recognised, Boris Johnson will be long gone from No 10 and whoever replaced Johnson and Patel with have a whole can, if not a bucketload of worms on their plate. 

Quite apart from all of the above arguments, which I hope any serious and fair person of any political persuasion should consider, I must add that I personally find the policy repugnante and repulsive, but most of all it has more in with the mass deportations that we saw in the 20th century by some of the most vile regimes on both the right and left, than it has to do with 21st century Britain. Unless of course you believe that Britain would be better off as a quasi fascist state. I will take this  opportunity to remind my readers that I lfet the Labour Party in 2009 over their despicable policy of support for the French Riot Police when they shut Sangatte Refugee Camp with brutal force. Alan Johnson, then the Labour Home Secretary claimed that this would help stop illegal immigration. It hasn't and this new policy will be no more effective. 

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